It was another mostly successful week for the surging Pittsburgh Penguins, as they sandwiched two big wins against the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers around another bizarre loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. But hey, the other guys get paid too, and as long as you keep winning two out of every three, you are going to be fine.
They get ready to enter the weekend for a five-game Western Conference road trip in second place in the Metropolitan Division, four points behind the first-place Washington Capitals and one point ahead of the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets.
Let us take a look at who stood out over this past week in the latest Trending Penguins Players.
Who Is Hot
Marcus Pettersson — He has been a nice addition from the minute he arrived, but this past week may have been the best hockey he has played all season. Maybe ever. Overall he is on a four-game point streak (with points in five of his past seven games) with some dominant underlying numbers. In the three games this past week he had four assists (more points than anyone on the team), was a 57.8 percent in total shot attempt share, on the ice for five goals for and only one against during 5-on-5 play, was a 60 percent in scoring chance share (on 30 chances for and only 20 against) , and 66 percent in high-danger scoring chances (on for 12 for and only six against). All of those numbers were tops among Penguins defenders this past week. Some fantastic play.
Evgeni Malkin — Evgeni Malkin has been taking a lot of heat lately for his play, and even though it did not result in a huge week offensively (he had zero goals and three assists) there is a lot of evidence to suggest he played well and might be on the verge of a big breakout. For one, the Penguins held a 3-1 goal differential at 5-on-5 with him on the ice, while absolutely running over teams when it came to scoring chances. With Malkin on the ice the Penguins outchanced their opponents by a 30-9 margin. You dominate shot attempts and scoring chances the way Malkin’s line did this past week and the goals were start to fill the back of the opponent’s nets very, very, very quickly.
Matt Murray — Just quite simply continuing to play the best hockey of his NHL career. In the two games he played this past week he faced exactly 100 shots and stopped 99 of them. The 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night could have been a lot closer had it not been for his play in net. Overall for the season his save percentage is up to .917, which is well above the league average, and his .927 mark at even-strength puts him among the top-10 goalies in the NHL as of this posting.
Who Is Not
Jamie Oleksiak — He only played in one game this week and he did not really do much to stand out. That is going to be a problem for him because he is looking like he is going to be the odd-man out when Justin Schultz is ready to return to the lineup (he is starting to skate again). You know the Kris Letang-Brian Dumoulin defense pairing is set, they seem happy with Marcus Pettersson-Jack Johnson as the third pairing, and there is no sign Olli Maatta is going anywhere.
Who Had More Bad Luck
Patric Hornqvist — Just, ugh. He was playing really well this week until he had to leave Tuesday’s game against Florida with yet another head injury, and it was later revealed that it is another concussion. This is concerning because he has had a lot of head injuries in a very short period of time. He is as consistent as they come on the ice with his work ethic and style of play (and he does a lot of important things that few players on the team can do) so it is going to be a big loss without him in the lineup (especially as it coincides with the current absence of Zach Aston-Reese). The most important thing, though, is that his health is okay because you never want to see somebody miss this much time because of head injuries.
(Data in this post via Natural Stat Trick)